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Thread: 1978 323i driver/project

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    1978 323i

    1978 323i driver/project

    I should have done this before maybe, but I've always really looked to the awesome and never-ending "what did I do to my e21 today?" thread as a great source of inspiration, and enjoy piling on to it as much as possible!

    The last two consecutive owners made a few posts on this forum, but nothing extensive.

    I have a 1978 323i (built 7/78) that I bought in July 2016 as a pretty well-used non-runner with pieces in the trunk (lots of deferred maintenance, not too much rust).. The indicated mileage is 220k km but I wouldn't be surprised if it was higher, still pretty original after all that though. previous titles and owners have had it as 1979 and even 1980 for some reason, I have no idea why. Fortunately, I was able to get it sorted out and my title fixed after registering it here in Texas.

    I posted this message to the E21 registry thread last July, almost a year ago:
    https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...4#post29332064

    Anyhow, I'll start posting my progress on this car to this thread instead (mostly), mainly to better get suggestions and feedback without cluttering up the other thread.

    I don't really keep track of the money anymore, probably have about 10-11k into it now, and haven't even got the body work done yet! But I've been having a blast fixing this thing up, no plans to stop now. I've slowed way down on non-essential purchases lately, partly just to give myself a chance to catch up on installing what I've already got.

    Free and cheap parts however, are still game on! Got a day trip planned for Tuesday to go do more scavenging (free parts, aside from the gas & time to drive there)

    -David

    IMG_9358 (Medium).JPG
    Last edited by cgifool; 06-19-2017 at 12:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Portland, OR
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    606
    My Cars
    1982 323i 2003 325it
    About time, David! Looking forward to this!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Past, Present, and Future

    1974 BMW 2002tii (RIP)
    1995 BMW 325is w/ FULL S50 swap, track prepped (SOLD)
    1988 BMW 325ix Zinno/Black (RIP)
    1988 BMW 325ix Alpine/Black (Sold)
    1988 BMW 535is Alpine/Pacific Blue (Going Away...)
    1982 BMW 323i (Current Project/Paper Weight)
    2003 BMW 325i Sport Touring (Daily Driver)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    Tonight I installed the trunk light harness I got from the '80 car yesterday (along with the clips that secure it to the trunk hinge). Tested and works, yay!

    Problem is, the late-style light doesn't fit the hole in the trunk lid (the hole is slightly too narrow), and the trunk lid won't close and latch with the button installed!

    I already have an early-style light tucked away somewhere waiting this day, but i'm not sure what button to use - maybe one of the black rubber covered ones like on the door frames? It needs the same exact form factor, just bit shorter of a post.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    Today the (proper) set of main bearings arrived, and I finished swapping the old ones out for new.

    That all took long enough that I was done for the eve. Next time I'll plastigage the mains and check the end play.

    I'll take some photos another time of all the bearings arranged in order- interestingly the wear seems to increase gradually from front to back, and pretty much all on the cap-side (bottom) shells. In front, there's hardly any visible wear. From the middle on back (and thrust surface) there are small but increasing areas of copper visible. Purely due to oil pressure differences maybe (by distance from oil pump?)

    Really looking forward to getting the oil pan back on this sucker.

  5. #5
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    Rod Bearings (cap-side top row, rod-side bottom row, #1 on the left, #6 on the right).

    The fine (and not so-fine) lines are from embedded junk, not oil grooves

    IMG_1544.jpg

    Old Main Bearings (minus one pair that was hiding when I took this)

    #1 on the left, #6 on the right. Saddle side top row, cap-side bottom row.

    The brown areas are copper.


    IMG_1539.jpg
    Last edited by cgifool; 06-26-2017 at 01:22 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    monterey, ca.
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    e21, e30 m3. e46 330ci
    the mains show more wear then the rods, which is never the case. I would venture to say the rods have been changed before.
    Tom D

    77 e21 - m42
    88 e30m3
    04 330 dinan3
    84 r1000rt
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    all of them gray
    14 f800gsa - red headed stepchild!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    1978 323i
    Tonight it was raining, so no pushups in the driveway tonight.

    Instead, I finally got around to dealing with some self-inflicted work, the foam tape I used on my a/c evaporator box just wasn't up to the job - too thick I guess, and for some reason the adhesive on the back stuck better to the box than to the tape itself, and it started coming apart right away.

    Removing the old tape & adhesive was quite a chore. I ended up using a four-part method: scrape off the bulk of the tape itself (the foam part), then come back and slowly scrape off the adhesive layer (with a plastic paint scraper), then goo-gone and paper towels to remove the sticky residue, finally soapy water and a washcloth to remove the goo-gone.

    Peanut butter cookie for scale.


    IMG_1564.jpg

    I re-did the tape with some 1/16" neoprene this time, about 1.25" width. Looks and fits nicely, we'll see if it stays put this time. Never could find anything that matched the (disintegrated) original foam rubber stuff that was on there previously.


    IMG_1567.jpg

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Sacramento, CA
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    922
    My Cars
    1979 E21 320i
    I know TheCatMilton found a good substitute, maybe if we summon him like Betelgeuse...
    -John

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    My Cars
    1978 323i
    I finally got around to re-working my smoke tester. For a heating element I used a piece of wire from a hair-dryer heating element, with a bit of fiberglass cloth around it to act as a wick.

    The first iteration had the holes much too low on the can, too prone to leakage. I hot glued those up and drilled new holes higher up, and added flexible leads to alligator clips. It also used mineral oil as the fuel, but it was way too stinky. I cleaned all that out and got some "smoke fluid" like you put in a real smoke machine.

    It's powered by an adjustable voltage/current power supply for now, but I'll probably swap that out for a wall wart once I figure out how much power it really needs.

    I'll post some action shots once I re-test it.

    IMG_1552.jpg
    IMG_1551.jpg

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    Tonight I plastigaged the rest of the main bearing caps. All came out a little tighter than the tight end of the green plastigage range (0.001 in minimum) - apparently slightly less than the tight end of the given range in the blue book.. (0.0012 - 0.0028 in).

    I think I'll accept this, because I was forced to install the upper bearing shells with a little lube (crank in car), and thus unable to measure everything completely clean and dry, which would make things a little tighter.

    Although I adjusted the thrust bearing cap approximately the middle of its range before torquing it (and did this one last), I left any measurement for next time before I start trying to thinking about finally putting the oil pan back on. (its been way too long already, whats another few days?)

    I could not perceive much, if any, movement of the crank fore & aft when I tried (fairly gently) to do so. I'll be re-reading up on measuring this before then because I've already forgotten since the last time.

    EDIT: I re-read this link below and realize I didn't set the thrust bearing cap position properly, so I'll re-do it next time before trying to measure.

    http://www.e30tech.com/forum/showthread.php?t=59017
    Last edited by cgifool; 07-06-2017 at 02:00 AM.

  11. #11
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    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    Okay, back again. Only managing to work on the car 2 nights a week these days..

    Got the crank axial play (eg. thrust bearing) figured out and measured at 0.0035, seems fair to me.

    Oil pump back in and torqued.

    Oil pan back on with a new cork gasket (and no gasket sealer, except the dabs in the 4 corners, and a couple more to keep the gasket in place during installation.

    I tried paper last time, thinking it was the best choice, but it seemed to be seeping all the way around before long, and decided to try something different.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    I hadn't touched the car in 2 weeks, been a little distracted since we bought the neighbor's house a month ago and have been spending lots of time fixing it up..

    Anyhow, tonight I finally put the radiator back in, filled up the oil and coolant, turned the engine over with plugs and fuel pump relay removed long enough for the oil pressure light to go out, then replaced them and fired it up.

    Although it did start, it wasn't real happy about it at first.

    My cold start situation is definitely acting up, which is annoying. Idles too low and wants to surge at first until its run a few minutes, then just idles low and a little rough. Last time I drove it (a couple months ago now!) it kept wanting to stall at traffic lights.

    On the plus side, at least in the few minutes I ran it, I didn't hear anything that sounded like a quiet rod knock anymore, which seems like it must be a good thing!

  13. #13
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    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    My dumb shop light expired, so I ordered a new bulb for it ($10), and it still doesn't work! I hate that!

    Tonight (by flashlight) I pulled my fuel injectors for testing, using a pair of needle nose vice grips and a little elbow grease. One of them required a little extra persuasion with a large screwdriver and wood shim, but fortunately nothing too exciting.

    #6 seemed like it might have had a couple tiny droplets of fuel stuck to the tip right when I pulled it. I'll look forward to seeing what testing reveals!



    IMG_2088.jpg


    IMG_2089.jpg
    Last edited by cgifool; 08-08-2017 at 12:23 AM.

  14. #14
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    Feb 2016
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    Sacramento, CA
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    1979 E21 320i
    If it was draining in the oil after sitting pressurized post-run maybe that could be the cause of your bearing failure. If those are the same as an m10, I have some spares I could send your way that are used if you have a way of testing. At least one of them is bound to be good
    -John

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    DFW TX USA
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    1983 320I
    Quote Originally Posted by Somjuan View Post
    I know TheCatMilton found a good substitute, maybe if we summon him like Betelgeuse...
    I HAVE BEEN SUMMONED. I used home depot foam tape meant for campers, windows, doors, and whatnot. I found the original adhesive unsatisfactory so I slathered it with dollar tree super glue.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    I replaced my "new style' black plastic oil cap with an "old style" metal one from the scrap yard that matches the one depicted in the realoem picture.

    Over the last week or so I've been fooling around (and failing, repeatedly) at making parallel flow condenser brackets out of completely inappropriate materials.

    Finally I got a 1" x 36" strip of galvanized 16 gauge from Metal Supermarket, rigged up a super hokey bending rig with some bits of metal in the vice, and managed to make a few new brackets that should work for attempt #3, using the original mounting holes and hardware.

    It's really annoying how hard it is to do a good job of this without a bending brake and shear, but sadly, metalworking is one thing my shop is woefully inadequately prepared for.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    This morning I stopped by Terry Sayther Automotive in South Austin and traded the Bosch a/c compressor and bracket from my 323 for a very straight e21 13" turbine wheel (to replace one of mine with a warped centering hole).

    I wondered how we could check the straightness of the wheel, and they simply spun it up in the wheel balancer, which worked great.

    Terry says he is hoping to use the compressor on his M1 project (!!).

    IMG_2132.jpg

  18. #18
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    This evening I finally got my parallel flow condenser mounted well enough that I'm ready to go ahead and put the front end back together now.

    What an ordeal!

    Although I don't think I'd be very happy if I'd paid for the results I got, it doesn't totally offend me, and should at least let me move on to figuring out the Sanden compressor mount.

    At my current rate of progress I should have the a/c working in time for next summer

    IMG_2196.jpg

  19. #19
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    Jun 2016
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    1978 323i
    On the road again!

    I reinstalled my freshly cleaned fuel injectors (thanks JDB!!) and after adjusting a mixture a bit, the car starts up and runs much much nicer!

    I haven't fine tuned it by any means but now I can hear the injectors singing softly at idle with the hood open - I don't remember ever noticing that before! Starts up much nicer and doesn't want to stall at stop lights either , so yay

    Took my wife out for date night in it, she approves

    David

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    More minor rust repair on the drivers side.

    Adjusted my exhaust system (again) to keep it from bumping, but I think what I really need are some new exhaust donuts. They're only a year old but already all cracking and saggy Thinking of trying to find some later ones that might work better.

    Realized I missed replacing a couple small sections of fuel line around my fuel pump, old and cracking. Certainly got to be the source of the faint fuel smell I start noticing after 30 minutes of driving.

    Also I took a good long look around under my car for the first time in 500 miles or so since replacing the oil pan gasket. Whole engine and transmission look bone dry except a small amount of antifreeze seepage from the O-ring underneath the WUR.. NLA and no o-ring size listed, go figure. Guess I'll have to take it apart and measure the old one.

    Part # 13 63 1 264 271

  21. #21
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    1978 323i
    Sprayed some primer sealer on the areas where I'd been doing rust repair and leveling. Unfortunately i'm not sure exactly which white the car was repainted, my assumption has been its one of the 3 alpine whites; I'm assuming if I want a match I'll have to take a part off the car and bring it to the auto paint store (gas flap?).

    Fiddled with trying to remove the door lock cylinder and handle, but the handle screws were frozen (sprayed some stuff on for next try), and the cylinder was a little more involved than I was ready for. So I spent some time (later) making a wish list of the rubber bits and attaching screws involved. There's ALWAYS one part that costs too much and has to come from Germany of course. This time its the $5 circular rubber washer thing that goes under the lock cylinder. #51211848827. Every time ECS Tuning's website says it will ship in 1 month, I know there's a 50% chance they'll come back to me in a few days or a week and say "sorry, it's actually not available after all".

    Note to future self: Use these excellent instructions for getting the lock cylinder out: http://todor.info/repair/e21doorlock.html

    I smugly noticed while I was looking around in there that most of the plastic grommets are missing or worn out and loose - I say smugly because I assumed they were and bought all I'd need a month or two ago (on the assumption that they were the cause of rattling when I close the doors).

    Last thing for the night was changing my diff oil (Red Line 75W140 gear oil), 221000 km indicated yesterday. Noting it here because I'm terrible at keeping paper notes. Removing the fill plug was a little hard, mostly due to limited access and the car being on the ground, ended up breaking it loose with a 10mm allen wrench (the L-shaped kind) and a whack with the 5 lb hammer. New crush rings on the filler and drain plugs as always. Noticed there's no magnet on the drain plug, guess I'll remedy that next time.
    Last edited by cgifool; 10-25-2017 at 10:20 AM.

  22. #22
    Join Date
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    Austin, TX
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    1978 323i
    last night I sprayed a couple thin coats of Duplicolor "bright white" over my primered driver side areas, but unfortunately my one can wasn't quite enough to completely hide the primer. Not sure what the existing color really is, but so far the bright white seems reasonably close.

    this morning was chilly overnight (60 deg f), and I was only semi-surprised when the car wouldn't start this morning. It coughed one single time the first try, but not again.

    I fully assumed it was a cold-start issue, but when I tried again this evening (over 80 deg f) it still didn't even cough. Even a couple tries with starting fluid didn't result in one single spark it seems.

    I stopped messing with it before it got too flooded and put the charger on it. It does seem like a lack of spark problem rather than a lack of fuel, given the continued failure with starting fluid, unless the plugs are simply all wet.

    Guess I'll start with checking the plugs and cleaning if necessary, and some ignition diagnostics later.

  23. #23
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    Hmm. I guess the sparks were fine and it was just flooded?

    I pulled all the spark plugs, they were wet - I cleaned and reinstalled. The oil doesn't smell gassy.

    I pulled the cold start valve to check the action and o-ring - a bunch of gas ran out from the intake, maybe a couple table spoons?- the old o-ring looked OK, but was visibly a different size from the new one I had waiting for just this occasion.

    I put the cold start valve in a bag and cranked the engine once. Could not observe the spray pattern, but I collected about a teaspoon of gasoline in the bag, no obvious drips after.

    Reinstalled the CSV with the new o-ring, new wave washers, and some blue lock-tite (the stick) for good measure. Left it unplugged for now.

    I removed the WUR lines and flushed it out a bit to try and clear anything in its inlet screen, nothing obvious before or after.

    Cranking the engine over again with clean plugs and CSV unplugged, it started right up.

    I drove around to get the car nice and warm again, and re-adjusted the mixture by leaning it out just until the point where the idle started to get a little rough, then richer again by just a smidge.

    This morning (60 degrees) it started right up again, but wouldn't really idle properly again until the temp needle started registering (more from a lack of fast idle than from roughness at 1100 or 1200 rpms).

    Next time I'll check the actual control pressures, Im thinking the WUR is not quite richening the mixture enough when cold (leading to a little over-rich condition when warm, if I adjust the mixture at all when not fully hot), and I can't detect any sign of fast idle from the aux air valve either. Not anxious to buy a new air valve ($$$), somewhat interested in going with a manual aux air valve (using something like a heater control valve).
    Last edited by cgifool; 10-27-2017 at 01:39 PM.

  24. #24
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    1978 323i
    Forgot to post this..

    The cold-start valve o-ring, 1 364 1 360 378 (which also fits E12, E21, E28, E30, and E36) does not have the size listed at realoem, so I measured my new one before installing it.

    I.D. is 8mm, C.S. is 2mm, O.D. is 12mm.

    Unless it's a little bit off due to my cheap micrometer.

    IMG_3130.jpg

    IMG_3131.jpg

  25. #25
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    Well that’s lame, I got 50 or 60 miles from town this morning doing 75 or so down the state highway and the engine suddenly died, no sputtering dead as a door nail dead. Fortunately right at a rest area! Plenty of electricity but 0 spark ( I checked for a spark from the coil wire to ground). A little too coincidental to the same situation two days ago.

    Sitting here now waiting for the truck to come take me and the car home to figure it out !

    david
    Last edited by cgifool; 10-28-2017 at 11:00 AM.

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